NEW NET Weekly List for 11 Dec 2012

Below is the final list of technology news and issues for the Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012, NEW NET (NorthEast Wisconsin Network for Entrepreneurism and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 PM weekly gathering at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. Three topics of probable discussion for tonight's meeting are:
  1. Ransomware -- maybe Luke can share his experiences with, and thoughts about, ransomware and the malware  world in general.
  2. Google Services -- two topics are in the news with respect to Google's services; the end of new free Google Apps for your domain services and the value / danger of having Google be your main computing interface, or even a significant player in your computing tools suite.
  3. More NEW NET participants -- the NEW NET meeting is an appropriate time to discuss the NEW NET website, monthly focus-topics for NEW NET meetings and other ideas for increasing the number of people enjoying and participating in NEW NET.
The ‘net
1.        Google Fiber: the rest of the Internet is too slow  http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/11/the-rest-of-the-internet-is-too-slow-for-google-fiber/  “…my whirlwind 36 hours in Kansas City in two words: bandwidth and barbecue. I spent all day Wednesday testing a Google fiber connection, attending startup events, seeing Google’s “fiber space,” meeting entrepreneurs, chatting with a realtor, and interviewing a city official. All of that was washed down, at the end of the day, with a generous helping of delicious burnt ends and ribs at Oklahoma Joe’s…So how fast is Google Fiber? Really fast... and it may be far ahead of its time. I can’t say that I noticed a significant difference in terms of my day-to-day use of the Internet…“Right now, we don’t do anything that requires fast Internet,” admitted Adam Arredondo of LocalRuckus, a new local startup…the rest of the Internet is still really slow in comparison to a gigabit home broadband pipe; there are many other obstacles getting in the way of a full-bore Internet experience…once my Web request leaves the fiber-connected house, makes its way out of the city, and starts talking to the rest of the Internet, there are all kinds of routers, switches, boxes, firewalls, and quality of service (traffic shaping) issues that make it so I can’t actually download an album from iTunes in the blink of an eye…Andy Kallenbach…said that what he really notices is the high upload speed. “The best connections that I get personally are to several of our servers colocated in downtown [Kansas City]…It is just as good as walking into the data center and jacking in. Our nightly deployments take around 10 seconds now… Malor, who has a 250MB connection in Chattanooga, commented: “This is something you need to live with, as opposed to just experience briefly, to start to understand how it matters. The biggest thing is that you never, ever have to think about what you are doing with your connection…with that kind of packet throughput, you don't really get latency issues…on Tuesday afternoon, I ran a test on Google’s own speed test page and got 460Mbps down. The two denizens of the Hacker Home…told me that such speeds were slow…Another thing to keep in mind is that running Fiber over WiFi, of course, slows down the connection noticeably. Google techs who came to visit the Hacker Home…told me that they regularly see Wi-Fi speeds of around 100Mbps compared to wired speeds of around 800Mbps…Ben Estes, a local Google fiber technician who was over at the house Wednesday, estimated that “over half” of the approximately 300 homes in Kansas City, Kansas that have the gigabit installed already have gone for the $120-per-month TV option. He and his colleague Brett Neal came to the Hacker Home to check out why our gigabit connection had fallen to about 40Mbps…he determined that the electrical power to the house wasn't sufficient and that once he replaced the fiber jack in the house, everything should be fine. (The Hacker Home…had some issues with not being able to feed enough power to its new residents and all their devices, including the Google Fiber box. An electrician working at the house that same day expanded its capacity from 40 amps to 200 amps.) By the time Estes and Neal left, they were pulling down 900Mbps-plus speeds…“Right now there’s only six of us [technicians],” he said, noting that he and his girlfriend were considering moving to this neighborhood just to get fiber access. “By six months, we should be over 100 [technicians]. We have a lot to do in Kansas City…”  http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/12/fibre-home  “…Streaming video service would seem to be the most likely way to consume high quantities of broadband, but Hulu, Netflix and the like top out in the 2 to 5 Mbps range…A high-quality local network stream could range from 10 to 40 Mbps…A gigabit internet connection isn't just hype…It's just ahead of its time, and above the average pay grade. As consumers increasingly have access to 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps connections, providers of all kinds may find reasons to up the data rates they serve. It just isn't obvious…what those might be.”  http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/11/ars-asks-help-us-max-out-google-fiber/  “…You've in essence removed a bottleneck that the Internet isn't yet structured to deal with being removed. Having that much pipe means you're basically plugging your computer directly into the thing you're downloading from. Your own bandwidth is so great that it becomes immaterial. It becomes a question of how much bandwidth the other side has available…”
2.       Facebook / Microsoft Deal Could Change Everything About Online Advertising  http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-and-microsoft-are-working-on-a-deal-and-it-could-change-everything-about-advertising-2012-12  “Facebook and Microsoft are working on a deal that, if completed, would put Facebook one huge step closer to launching an ad network that could rival Google's in size, and change the way advertising is done online forever. According to…sources, Facebook is in negotiations with Microsoft to buy Atlas Solutions, the ad-serving product Microsoft acquired when it bought aQuantive for $6 billion in 2007…One source says that prior to Facebook's negotiations with Microsoft, the highest bid for Atlas was $30 million…Facebook is the only company in the world that has a billion email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers on file. This asset allows Facebook to do something no other Website can. Facebook can tell marketers whether or not a Facebook user saw, on Facebook.com, an ad for a product before going to the store and buying it…Facebook will use this process to tell marketers exactly how much their sales increased thanks to ads on Facebook.com…What's really exciting is what it could do with an Atlas-supported ad network: perform the same trick for the rest of the Internet. Facebook computers could track Facebook users across all sites partnered with Facebook, keeping track of what ads these users see and what products they later buy…”
3.       Auto Insurance Comparison Startup Leaky Launches Nationally  http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/05/leaky-national-launch-seed-funding/  “Leaky, a Y Combinator-incubated startup that helps customers compare the price they’d pay with car insurance companies, is expanding to full nationwide coverage today. The startup first launched more than a year ago, but the site quickly attracted attention (as well as cease-and-desist letters) from insurance companies, so it was taken down and reemerged in March…Rather than pulling prices directly from insurers’ websites, Leaky looks at their state regulatory filings, then predicts what each user would be charged based on their personal details. Leaky can also predict how changes in your life…will affect your insurance costs…until now, Leaky was only available in California…The site has also grown from supporting seven insurers to more than 100…the monitoring feature, which was released after the March relaunch, has been a hit. “By creating a profile, Leaky will monitor your insurance and let you know when you are eligible for discounts based on a number of factors…”
4.       Business Apps Integration Platform CloudWork Launches  http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Business-Apps-Integration-Platform-CloudWork-4092238.php  “CloudWork brings integrations between Gmail and Google Calendar with other popular business apps such as Evernote, Zoho, Capsule CRM and Highrise…CloudWork, a service for businesses to automate tasks, notifications and processes in the cloud, today announces the launch of ten different integrations giving Gmail and Google Calendar users options to sync data with 4 major cloud apps. With the integration of Gmail with CRM apps, a salesperson will be able to see all emails sent and received via Gmail directly in Highrise, Zoho CRM or Capsule CRM…Another Google Calendar integration use case is the possibility to add a Google Calendar event by creating a note in Evernote…CloudWork is emerging as one of the leading lightweight integration platform as a service (iPaaS) for non-technical users…”  http://blog.cloudwork.com/mailchimp-integrations/    https://cloudwork.com/plans
5.        Rvl.io, reveal.js and Little Bits  http://betabeat.com/2012/12/last-night-at-new-york-tech-meetup-how-can-we-get-our-hands-on-your-littlebits/  “…After 10 startups had demonstrated their projects at last night’s New York Tech Meetup…meeting-goers and presenters alike turned their attention to the product that had lit up the evening…they were littleBits, electronic modules that snap together with magnets…the two inch-long rectangles click together to form a circuit, giving dabblers a simple way to light a bulb or honk a horn at the press of a button…The startup’s demonstration included a model that illuminated the image of a horse around its base when the audience clapped…The idea was to make it easier for developers and designers who don’t have the electrical engineering know-how a way to bring their ideas to life…Hakim El Hattab, lead interactive developer at Qwiki, showed off his side project rvl.io, a browser-based presentation platform that led one audience member to offer a Mr. El Hattab a job during the Q&A. “I’m not even sure he realizes how big it could be,” went the after-party chatter. “It could be a Prezi-killer.”…”  http://ostatic.com/blog/say-goodbye-to-presentation-software-with-reveal-js  “…Advances in browser technology and javascript provide lightweight means of creating documents and presenting ideas. Reveal.js is an excellent, and elegant, example of rethinking the software we use to create slide decks…reveal.js is a framework for easily creating beautiful presentations using HTML. You’ll need a browser with support for CSS 3D transforms to see it in its full glory…reveal.js supports seven transition styles: cube, page, concave, zoom, linear, no transition, and the default, where the slides seem to be on opposite sides of an invisible cube…reveal.js also supports five other themes out of the box. However, since the themes are simple CSS, written using Sass to keep them simple, it should be easy to create new themes…If editing HTML is not your thing, you can still take advantage of reveal.js using rvl.io, which will let you create, edit, and store your presentation online, using only your browser…reveal.js looks like a solid offering, and if you are looking for a quick, text-based way to build a professional quality presentation, reveal.js fits the bill…”  http://www.rvl.io/   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyWAc7dBvmA
6.       Introducing the New Yahoo! Mail  http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/12/yahoo-redesigns-mail-experience-for-speed-launches-native-iphone-and-windows-8-apps/  “Yahoo just unveiled its first major product release since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO. It launched a new version of Yahoo Mail for Android and the web, alongside completely new Yahoo Mail apps for the iPhone and Windows 8. Though Yahoo Mail has slowly lost its clout since Google’s Gmail launch, it holds the number one slot for U.S. e-mail users. Worldwide, Gmail just recently beat out Hotmail as the leading e-mail service, while Yahoo trails behind in third place. Yahoo…redesigned its mail applications for speed and efficiency, making it easier for users to get to their mailbox and send off e-mails. Overall, the web experience looks a lot cleaner than before…The consistency across platforms is important, considering how many people depend on a variety of devices these days. To that end, the new iPhone app looks incredibly similar to the Android app. Both have the Yahoo purple throughout and feature infinite scrolling. The existing Android app has also gotten a bit more efficient, and now requires 20 to 40 percent less battery power, according to Yahoo…”  http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/11/sitting-at-number-3-yahoo-says-speed-enhancements-for-mail-saves-users-over-36m-minutes-a-day/
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
7.        Sir Tim Berners-Lee flags UN net conference concerns  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20594779  “Sir Tim Berners-Lee - inventor of the world wide web - is the latest voice to raise concerns about a meeting of communication tech regulators in Dubai. He spoke of concerns that some attendees would push for a UN agency to "run the internet" rather than leaving it to groups already "doing a good job"…the UN agency itself is playing down suggestions of a power-grab. Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said ahead of the event: "There is no need for the ITU to take over the internet governance."…The ITU has said there was a need to address the fact technologies like the internet were not properly addressed by the current regulations, and that more efforts must be made to change the fact that "two-thirds of the world's population" did not have access to the net. The US has vowed to block what it says is a Russian proposal to alter governance of the internet. Among the proposals being considered is a clause put forward by Russia which says: "Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure…”
8.       Ransonware Expanding: For PC Malware Victims, Pay or Else  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/technology/ransomware-is-expanding-in-the-united-states.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0  “Kidnappers used to make ransom notes with letters cut out of magazines. Now, notes simply pop up on your computer screen, except the hostage is your PC. In the past year, hundreds of thousands of people across the world have switched on their computers to find distressing messages alerting them that they no longer have access to their PCs or any of the files on them. The messages claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 20 other law enforcement agencies across the globe…The scheme is making more than $5 million a year…Security experts say that there are now more than 16 gangs of sophisticated criminals extorting millions from victims across Europe…ransomware, recently hit the United States. Some gangs have abandoned previously lucrative schemes, like fake antivirus scams and banking trojans, to focus on ransomware full time…ransomware involves infecting a user’s computer with a virus that locks it. The attackers demand money before the computer will be unlocked, but once the money is paid, they rarely unlock it…security researchers estimate that 2.9 percent of compromised computer owners take the bait and pay…In some countries, the payout rate has been as high as 15 percent…The messages often demand that victims buy a preloaded debit card that can be purchased at a local drugstore — and enter the PIN. That way it’s impossible for victims to cancel the transaction once it becomes clear that criminals have no intention of unlocking their PC…an independent security researcher…was able to hack into one group’s computers to discover just how gullible their victims could be. On one day last month, the criminals’ accounting showed…their haul for one day’s work more than $400,000…That is significantly more than hackers were making from fake antivirus schemes a few years ago, when so-called “scareware” was at its peak and criminals could make as much as $158,000 in one week. Scareware dropped significantly last year after a global clampdown by law enforcement…Internecine war between scareware gangs put the final nail in the coffin…In most cases, people visit compromised Web sites that download the program to their machines without so much as a click…researchers…noted that thousands of people were getting ransomware through sites hosted by GoDaddy…GoDaddy’s director of information security operations…advised users to enable GoDaddy’s two-step authentication option, which sends a second password to users’ cellphones every time they try to log in, preventing criminals from cracking their account with one stolen password and alerting users when they try…The best solution is to visit a local repair shop to wipe the machine clean and reinstall backup files and software…”  [at this week’s NEW NET session, we’ll get a real-world overview of ransomware from Luke W; maybe he’ll consider doing a time-shifted NaNoWriMo analog of a Mark Russinovich /Daniel Suarez novel about a in-home computer service guy who happens upon some type of nefarious plot whilst cleaning ransomware and other garbage off the PC of a Fox Valley computer owner, including the dilemma posed by his preference to avoid the metagame clashing with the apparent need for involvement of some type of government agencies… - ed.]
9.       'Everyone in US under virtual surveillance' - NSA whistleblower  http://rt.com/usa/news/surveillance-spying-e-mail-citizens-178/  “The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney…Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called 'Naris.' This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives…I’ve been basically saying for quite some time…that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country…All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded…If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all…It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data…That’s why they're building Bluffdale…because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it…”  [so is this conspiracy theory stuff, fact or somewhere in between? wonder if Binney feels he was foolish to blow that particular whistle or tilt at that windmill since the personal privacy situation seems to be getting worse in spite of his efforts; hmmm, wonder if they scan all new material added to the web, like posts on a blog… – ed.]
10.     Can disguises fool surveillance technology?  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121207-do-disguises-fool-surveillance  “Stick on a fake moustache. Add some glasses.  Dye your hair. And perhaps pop on a hat. If you are a man – or woman - on the run in the movies then this kind of low-tech disguise is all that is needed to evade the authorities…in a case of life imitating art, a similar array of tactics seems to have met with some success in the real world. One of the…news stories of recent weeks concerns John McAfee…going on the run from the Belize police. According to his blog, McAfee disguised himself by colouring his hair and beard grey, darkening his face with shoe polish, padding his cheeks with bubble gum and stuffing his right nostril…This rather theatrical approach to disguise apparently helped McAfee observe the police going about their investigations and evade detection…fugitives in the future may not have it so easy. Recently, the FBI revealed plans for its Biometric Identification Tools Program, which amongst other things, aims to develop mobile facial recognition software – allowing a field agent to “access the biometric identification power of the US Government, in real time, at any point on the planet”. In essence, it takes the kind of surveillance technology that is commonplace in streets, shopping centres and sports stadiums in Europe and the US, and allows it to be used anywhere in the world…”  [maybe it’s time for a SurveilTechCamp unconference, with stones in shoes and mandatory pre-camp reading of “Little Brother” – ed.]
11.      How one law student is making Facebook get serious about privacy  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/11/how-one-law-student-is-making-facebook-get-serious-about-privacy/  “The world’s largest legal battle against Facebook began with a class assignment. Student Max Schrems still hasn’t turned in his university paper on the topic, due well over a year ago, but he has already accomplished something bigger: forcing Facebook to alter its approach to user privacy. Now, Schrems wants cash…to launch…a multi-year legal battle that might significantly redefine how Facebook controls the personal data on over one billion people worldwide. "If we get €300,000 ($384,000), we can shoot from all cannons," the 25-year-old told Ars…Schrems has encouraged tens of thousands of Facebook users…to request copies of whatever data Facebook holds on each of them, as he has done. Under European Union law, Facebook is required to comply with these requests within 40 days…Schrems filed 22 formal complaints with the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner…Those complaints included charges that Facebook Ireland violated EU law by keeping records of "pokes" even after a user has deleted them, collecting data on non-Facebook users as a way to create "shadow profiles," performing automatic tagging, gathering personal data via "Friend Find," retaining records of deleted posts, retaining copies of deleted chat messages, retaining copies of deleted friends…Irish authorities have begun asking for changes, and Facebook has altered some of its policies…Facebook said it would disable facial recognition for European users…under pressure from Irish authorities…This battle began nearly 18 months ago in California. Schrems, a spiky-haired, feisty Austrian from the University of Vienna, was…a visiting law student at Santa Clara University (SCU)…As part of a privacy seminar taught by Dorothy Glancy, one of America’s top privacy scholars, Schrems learned that one of the major principles of European privacy law was called the "right of access." It’s a simple idea: anyone interacting with an EU company or government agency can, for any reason, request all the data that entity has about oneself, and the company or government agency must comply. (American law has no equivalent principle…in Glancy’s 25-person privacy seminar, Schrems had the opportunity to learn about privacy and data protection while also meeting with experts from various tech companies, including Facebook. When a company official came to speak with the class…it quickly became clear to Schrems that the man didn’t have a full grasp of this basic European privacy principle. "He said that [Facebook sticks] to EU privacy law," Schrems said. "And I asked him about consent, and he said ‘We interpret consent in a way that as long as they don’t say no [then it’s OK]…”
Mobile Computing & Communicating
12.     Flexible screens set to spawn new generation of smartphones  http://metro.co.uk/2012/12/07/flexible-screens-set-to-spawn-new-generation-of-smartphones-3304718/  “Screens that can be bended, folded, rolled and worn  could pave the way for a new smartphone era. Imagine a smartphone that could be worn as a bracelet, bent or unfurled at whim and tucked into the back pocket of your jeans without risk of cracking when you sat down. This is the brave new world of flexible smartphone technology and the first of its type could be on our wrists next year…Bendable and less fragile than current options mean we’ll move away from the same black rectangle with rounded corners design that plagues the industry…Nokia, Sony and LG are among those who have been working on this for years, although Samsung is expected to beat them to the punch by launching an OLED (organic light emitting diode) screened flexi-phone early next year. The word from a Samsung spokesman is that the screens will be ‘foldable, rollable, wearable and will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than conventional LCD technology’…concept flexi-phones shown off at previous gadget shows have been…expensive vanity projects…‘Inherent problems in the manufacturing process mean that while the technology has been around for more than a decade, it still hasn’t reached the point where consumers can buy it. Samsung claims to have solved the issue – and has been one of the most vigorous in its efforts to commercialise the technology…”
13.     Gimbal, Qualcomm’s innovative mobile technology  http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2012/12/05/gimbal-qualcomms-innovative-mobile-technology-set-for-first-rollout-with-dentsu-in-japan/  “Gimbal, the much-heralded contextual awareness platform developed by Qualcomm, has taken a big step from theory into reality after advertising giant Dentsu announced…it will use the technology in Japan in what is its first rollout…On a basic level, Gimbal provides highly personalized user experiences on a smartphone, bringing together interest graphs, automation and a unique geo-fencing feature, which makes phones aware of physical locations around them. The technology allows devices to learn habits and activity from users over time, that’s fed back into the location technology to provide a powerful, personalized service. Blogwatch, which manages and interprets behaviour on social media, will use the Gimbal API in its mobile apps to provide greater context for users. The company is building on a trial that concluded that users were three times more likely to click a mobile app notification when it used Gimbal’s context…”
14.     The Thermometer Meets the Smart Phone  http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnnosta/2012/11/14/the-thermometer-meets-the-smart-phone-technology-that-help-moms-and-saves-lives/  “…Taking a temperature is nothing new and…technology has made the process quick, efficient and accurate.  But problems still exist, espically for that restless child who resists the process…here’s another case where your smartphone is another key tool for both health and wellness…With smart phones, you can take a photo and video, play games, locate your position and do countless of other useful things. A new patent…may in the future allow smart phone become an accurate medical diagnosing instrument that, without physical contact, can instantly measure someones temperature and detect environmental hazards. There are two ways of taking temperature. One is by contacting the body, like by a tip of an oral thermometer touching under the tongue. The other is a non-contact method by detecting intensity of the invisible infrared light that naturally emanates from every surface in this Universe. This light is proportional to the surface temperature, so by measuring its brightness a microprocessor can compute the temperature…thanks to a great progress in microelectronics, the infrared sensors became really tiny and even more sensitive. According to the patent, the infrared sensor is positioned inside a smart phone next to the digital camera lens. To measure temperature, the camera works as a viewfinder for a correct positioning the smart phone at about 1 inch from the patient’s temple. When the phone detects that its position is just right, it instantly takes the body temperature with a clinical accuracy sufficient for any diagnostic purpose. Thus, a doctor, nurse or mom no longer needs to carry a thermometer – it will be just there – inside their smart phone…”
15.     Mobile growth slows except for Internet of Things  http://afr.com/p/technology/mobile_growth_slows_as_internet_IFygr8Sx4BIfwtJRNOkthP  “Machines are set to become a major user of mobile services in Australia in the coming years as consumers and businesses stop buying more smartphones and tablets than people…Statistics…revealed a total of 30.2 million mobile services in Australia during the 2011/2012 financial year, accounting for approximately four mobile services for every three people…Analysts said the slowed growth would continue in future as the market hit saturation and Australians stopped buying increasing numbers of devices for personal use…growth could slow in the coming years to as little as one per cent, forcing carriers to focus on retaining profitable customers despite healthier growth of pre-paid services…mobile numbers could in fact continue to grow as the number of mobile connections linking machines - such as traffic lights that use SIM cards to phone home wirelessly - began to “skyrocket” in future…The trend, known as the ‘internet of things’, has been forecast for years but is expected to become a reality as the cost of implementing the capability, as well as the cost of transmitting data over mobile networks, both become reasonable…Network vendors have suggested the trend could see 50 billion connected devices in use by 2020…The slowed growth in mobile services has also been met with a continued drop in the average revenues mobile carriers pick up; a drop the regulator said of about 50 per cent since 2008…”
16.     Smartphone App Alerts Drowsy Drivers  http://news.yahoo.com/smartphone-app-alerts-drowsy-drivers-145751702.html  “…a new smartphone app could actually warn drivers if they appear distracted or drowsy behind the wheel…Modern phones with cameras facing both front and back allow the app to monitor a driver's head pose, eyes and blinking rate to detect possible distraction or drowsiness, even as it keeps watch on the road ahead. "We can determine the distance between cars in front and whether a driver is changing lanes on the outside, while detecting drowsiness and distraction inside,"…The smartphone sits mounted on a dashboard holder as a hands-free helper for drivers. Whenever the car safety app detects any dangerous patterns in driver behavior or outside conditions, it warns the driver with a blinking light and a noise alert…today's smartphones don't have the capability to process video streams from both the front and back cameras simultaneously. Campbell and his colleagues had to develop intelligent algorithms that switch quickly between the two cameras…The rapid-switching solution means that the car safety app technically has a blind spot in the front or back at any given time. Researchers fixed that problem by using the smartphone's other sensors, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, to figure out what is going on in the blind spot either inside or outside the car at any given time…”
17.     Snapseed photo editing app for Android  http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/hands-on-with-snapseed-photo-editing-app-for-android-2012126/  “Android has lagged far behind iOS when it comes to great photo editing software. To fix this, Google bought Nik software. Along with the Nik acquisition came the Snapseed app, which was only available for iOS but is now available for Android…Snapseed’s arrival on Android is a fairly big deal. Not only does it help set Android on a more level playing field with iOS for photography hobbyists, but the app (which is installed on countless iDevices) now has a semi exclusive “publish to Google+” button. Snapseed’s popularity on iOS is due in no small part to the powerful photo editing tools contained in an simple, gesture-driven user experience…Once you have a photo, the app shifts to a series of tools with simple descriptions. Each of these tools offer more specific features inside. Tune Image, for example, contains everything you need for contrast, white balance, and brightness controls. Each control is adjusted by swiping your finger across the screen from left to right. As you drag your finger across the screen, the changes will happen in real time on the photo beneath your finger…Snapseed provides a series of filters that can be applied. Unlike Instagram, where you have a series of preset filters that can be applied generically, Snapseed offers the filters with the same level of control as their photo correction tools. If you select the Grunge filter, for example, dragging your finger across the screen will adjust the intensity of the filter across a series of colors. The same applies to the Vintage filter, taking you seamlessly though a variety of options…”
18.     Outlook.com vs. Gmail: Android app showdown  http://www.pcworld.com/article/2017336/outlook-com-vs-gmail-android-app-showdown.html  “Microsoft's Outlook.com Webmail service recently passed the 25 million active user mark, a milestone the company celebrated by releasing an Android app for Outlook.com. The supposedly new Android app is part of the software giant's plan to take on Gmail…which has about 425 million active users…early adopters who have downloaded the new Outlook.com Android app are crying foul. The app currently has a two-star rating on Google Play based on 485 reviews…“I thought Microsoft would be using this application as an opportunity to show us Android users how good the Metro UI is. Obviously not,” said Matthew Wilson who left one of the many negative reviews for the Outlook.com app…let's get one nagging question out of the way: Yes, the new Outlook for Android app is nothing more than the old Hotmail app with a rebranded name, as far as I could tell…”
19.     Amazon’s Appstore on fire: 500% more downloads  http://gigaom.com/mobile/amazons-appstore-is-on-fire-500-more-downloads-this-year/  “…Amazon…announced…that “[a]pp downloads in the Appstore have grown more than 500 percent over the previous year.” The two biggest drivers of such growth are likely to be Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet line, introduced in September 2011, and strong developer support for programmers to create compelling Android applications for Amazon’s tablets…Google’s own Play store is central to the Android experience, which is a potential barrier here. There’s no Google Play on the Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD tablets, however. It’s Amazon’s Appstore or nothing, save for any hacking or tinkering that might enable traditional Android apps. For that reason…most of the app download growth is likely from Amazon’s own hardware…Amazon announced support for A/B testing: “With A/B Testing, developers can test simultaneous treatments of their apps, receive data about what’s worked best, and quickly adjust their apps to take advantage of this customer learning…This new development feature is just another in a long list that Amazon has provided since launching the Appstore: GameCircle, a Maps API, Test Drive (Amazon says 20,000 apps can be consumer tested online for free), localization support, and a Kindle Fire emulator are all part of the developer experience now…”
20.    Australian Police: Using Apple Maps Could Be 'Life Threatening'  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413025,00.asp  “…The Victoria police in Australia issued a stern warning Monday urging iPhone users to stop using Apple's Maps app in iOS 6 after having to rescue several people who became stranded thanks to the flawed program. Police said they have been called to rescue of a number of distressed motorists over the past several weeks who got lost in Australia's Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions on their iPhone. The police tested out the mapping system and found that it lists the Australian city of Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, approximately 43 miles away from the actual location of Mildura…Police warned that they are "extremely concerned," as there is no water supply within the park, and temperatures can reach as high as 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit, "making this a potentially life threatening issue." Some of the people saved by police had been stranded for up to 24 hours without any food or water. Others walked long distances through dangerous terrain to try to get phone reception and find their way out…” [I included this article mainly to show an example of negative linkbait titles; a secondary issue is that the topic illustrates the brand power of Apple and iPhone because for weaker brands, a title and issue like that could have huge repercussions for public opinion and sales, neither of which is likely to happen to the iPhone – ed.]
21.     Google kills free version of Apps for business  L  http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2012/12/changes-to-google-apps-for-businesses.html  “Google Apps started with the simple idea that Gmail could help businesses and schools work better together without the hassles of managing software and servers…When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn't quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready…Starting today for all new customers: Individuals wishing to use Google’s web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account…For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year…this change has no impact on our existing customers, including those using the free version. And as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities…”
22.    What Should I Do Now that Google Apps Accounts Are No Longer Free?  http://lifehacker.com/5967154/what-should-i-do-now-that-google-apps-accounts-are-no-longer-free  “…Google Apps for Business is no longer offering free plans…I just bought my own domain! What can I use for email, calendar, and other tools that won't cost me a ton of money?...If all you were looking for from a Google Apps account was the ability to use an email address like yourname@yourdomain.com, you can still have that...sort of. Google has documented the process here, and walks you through how to set up a free Gmail account to send and receive mail as another address. It's not perfect—for example, some email clients will display your mail as "yourname@gmail.com on behalf of yourname@yourdomain.com," and your Gmail address will always be in the headers of your message. Still, you get Gmail's great interface…with the convenience and professionalism…of using your own domain…if you've just registered a domain and wish you could get Google Apps-like features, your best bet may be to split out your needs into individual free services…Office Web Apps is free for individual users, and automatically uses SkyDrive for document storage. You can edit word documents, spreadsheets…since Office Web Apps is built by Microsoft, compatibility with desktop documents isn't an issue…there's also Zoho Office which is also free and fills the same need…we're betting that for most people the ability to use your own domain for your Gmail address is what really matters. If you're giving up on Google though, Microsoft and Zoho have the most compelling alternatives here…The real question is how they'll respond to the Google announcement…Our money is on them offering some new free options to sweeten the pot for disaffected Google Apps users…”  http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps/   https://www.zoho.com/docs/   http://lifehacker.com/5967336/use-google-app-engine-to-get-google-apps-for-your-domain-for-free
23.    Google Saving Your Personal Data Can Be A Blessing  http://www.forbes.com/sites/mattmiller/2012/12/06/google-saving-data/  “…this weekend…someone had swiped my backpack. Inside the bag was…my laptop…I realized that my entire life was saved on the machine that some stranger had just stolen. All of my documents (including work, school and personal), my music, my photos and a majority of my social life in Facebook, Twitter and email passwords saved on my browser…I guess I felt invincible, as young men tend to do, and I had absolutely nothing backed up on an external hard drive. Stupid, I know…my dad even poked fun at me, telling me how ironic it was that a technology writer doesn’t take the time to backup any files…I quickly found..everything wasn’t completely gone. In one way or another Google had my back. All of the contracts and important documents I’ve signed and needed to save dating back nearly five years had been, at one point, sent through Gmail. Since Gmail gives me so much space that not even my tens of thousands of unread emails can fill it up, everything was saved…it has a pretty reliable search function that helped me find those documents in my sent mail. The same goes for finding most of my writing and my resume…Luckily, in the last year or so I had been working almost exclusively on Google Docs while writing for work or school…for the last few days…Docs has pretty much acted as my own little hard drive of work that I can pull up quickly from any machine. I use Gmail and Google Docs every day, but I never really thought of them as a sort of reliable backup storage of the documents I needed to keep safe…Ten years ago…everything would have been lost forever. There was no Gmail, email storage was minimal, searching past emails was a disaster and we were, for the most part, limited to what data was on the hard drive in our home or office…it’s still pretty awful that I’ve lost my photos and music and now I have to pay for a new laptop, but at least thanks to Google my life can function somewhat normally…”  [Andy M and I were talking last Thursday about how much valuable information is stored by many people in online services, such as Gmail or Google Docs, and how difficult it can be to retrieve that information if, for some reason, a person loses access to their accounts on those online services; this highlights the opportunity to build tools to create auto-backups of all that online personal information, such as a Yahoo email account that mirrors the Gmail account. If you’re interested in joining the a team that is building, promoting and managing this set of online backup tools, contact me, bwaldron [att] gmail {dott} com – ed.]
24.    Google wreaks havoc on our company’s calendars  http://www.elezea.com/2012/12/google-calendar-lost-data-security-breach/  “We run our company on Google Apps for Business, and we’ve never had any problems. Until now. On Friday morning we came in to work to find that all our calendars are completely, utterly messed up. We lost data, ownership changed randomly, and some of us lost access to our own calendars. We’re still coming to terms with what happened, and it’s hard to explain without getting into specific detail, so I’ll just give you taste of the damage…Google Apps for Business promises 24/7 customer support, with a guarantee that “We’re always available to help via phone or email.” We discovered this issue on Friday morning, so I called immediately. They opened a case, I sent some screen shots, and then we waited. Later in the day I got an email saying that “Your case will now be further analyzed by the next tier of support.” And then they went dark. I kept sending more information as we found it, but nothing happened. I phoned again on Friday evening and Saturday morning, but by then, phone support couldn’t do anything because the case was transferred to a “calendar specialist”…Now it’s Monday morning and our ability to run our business is crippled since we don’t have access to our meeting schedule…On the Google Apps Calendar page it says this (my emphasis added):Google Calendar is designed for security and reliability with features like…simultaneous replicated storage for your calendar appointments, built-in disaster recovery…So if there’s built-in disaster recovery, why can’t they just restore our calendars to the state it was in Thursday night? Why has it been three days and we’re not getting regular updates and progress reports? Why promise 24/7 customer support if you can’t deliver it?…”
25.    How sound works on Google’s Project Glass  http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/how-sound-works-on-googles-project-glass-2012127/  “…the only port on Google’s Project Glass headset is the microUSB port, and it is only used for charging. In other words, Google’s eyeglasses-like head-up display doesn’t work with headphones…Several users who have been lucky enough to try out Project Glass have noted that the headset produces sound. Rather than use a headphone jack, sounds come from a speaker…on the device…The  headsets extends for about two inches beyond the ear, resting on the mastoid process just behind your ear. The speaker on Project Glass headsets play directly onto the mastoid process, which is connected to your middle ear. As sound plays from the speaker, the user is able to hear soft tones played quiet enough that no one else nearby can hear. In theory this means that when a user gets a notification, only they are aware of it. The use of bone conduction for audio isn’t exactly new, but it’s not terribly common either…Bone conduction technology is…used in units like the Jawbone Bluetooth headsets which sit in your ear, but also rest on your face and pick up audio through your jawbone…We’ve already seen that you can participate in Google+ Hangouts, which means that the low output speaker pressed against your head allows you to hear quite a bit more than simple tones…”
26.    Google+ Communities: Google version of Facebook Groups  http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/06/google-plus-communities/  “Google rolled out a brand new feature for…Google+…today, which brings the ability to form groups based around a specific interest, organization, or passion. The new Google+ Communities feature is very similar to the staple Facebook Groups feature, which lets you communicate with a group of people in a more specific way than you would by sharing information broadly…what’s the difference between Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups? Well, there are a few notable things, including the ability to start a Google Hangout video chat with the community and sharing things specifically with G+ communities from any +1 button…”  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/google-communities-and-photos.html
27.    Google adds 5,000 more stock images for Docs  http://tech2.in.com/news/web-services/google-adds-5000-more-stock-images-for-docs-slides-and-sheets/629172  “Those using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides now have a wider variety of stock images to choose from - a good 5,000 more!...the update is a result of suggestions from users, about expanding the selection of stock images in Google Drive, while also adding to the categories that they’re most inclined towards. Their suggestions have resulted in 5,000 new photos of nature , weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories. These images will be available for use across Google Docs, Sheets and Slides…over 900 of these stock images were picked directly from user submissions…users will have to select Insert > Image, click on Search, filter to Stock photos, and search for the images that they want…Google has launched an update to Google Drive that includes a new native editor that lets you create a new spreadsheet or edit an existing one right from the Drive app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device…The update also includes a slew of functionality improvements to the Google Docs editor…More interestingly, Google Drive now lets you create a shortcut to Drive files and folders on your homescreen. This will allow you to directly access frequently-accessed files and folders from the shortcuts on the homescreen…”  [Google has the opportunity to create a highly valuable web resource by expanding the topic covered in this article to address hosting and supporting a well-curated global warehouse of easy-to-search, free-to-use stock images and audio files that could be used for building websites, enhancing blog posts, embellishing Google Docs and generally used to make the Internet and personal or business documents and videos more effective and engaging; sort of a mashup of Google Image Search, the SketchUp Warehouse, Creative Commons resources and the Free Music Archive – ed.]
28.    3 Gmail Labs graduates  http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/06/gmail-labs-graduates/  “Google has graduated three time-saving experimental Gmail features, kicking them out of the protected confines of Labs and into your inbox. “Quote selected text,” “default reply all,” and “send and archive” are now official Gmail features. All three options are intended to shed precious seconds from the often redundant process of composing and sending email…Quote selected text…is easy to use — just copy-paste text and hit reply…Here’s how the gmail team describes the option: “Quote selected text’s graduation means that when you highlight text from an email you want to include in your reply, and then click reply, the compose template will be just what you selected…”  http://news.terra.com/7-ways-to-make-gmail-faster,15c257406deda310VgnCLD2000000ec6eb0aRCRD.html
29.    Google+ Is Growing at Facebook Speed  http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/google-grows-like-facebook/  “Google today announced that it has 135 million active users checking their Google+ streams each month, up from 100 million in mid-September…that means Google+ is now growing at the same pace as Facebook when it was similarly sized…That means that every month Google+ is adding about 14 million stream-active users…”
General Technology
30.    High-Voltage DC Breakthrough Could Boost Renewable Energy  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/12/121206-high-voltage-dc-breakthrough/  “…An updated, high-voltage version of DC, called HVDC, is being touted as the transmission method of the future because of its ability to transmit current over very long distances with fewer losses than AC. And that trend may be accelerated by a new device called a hybrid HVDC breaker, which may make it possible to use DC on large power grids without the fear of catastrophic breakdown that stymied the technology in the past…power technology and automation giant ABB, which developed the breaker, says it may also prove critical to the 21st century's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, by tapping the full potential of massive wind farms and solar generating stations to provide electricity to distant cities…In Edison's time, because of losses due to electrical resistance, there wasn't an economical technology that would enable DC systems to transmit power over long distances…advances in technology ultimately made it possible to transmit DC at higher voltages…Compared to AC, HVDC is more efficient—a thousand-mile HVDC line carrying thousands of megawatts might lose 6 to 8 percent of its power, compared to 12 to 25 percent for a similar AC line. And HVDC would require fewer lines along a route. That made it better suited to places where electricity must be transmitted extraordinarily long distances from power plants to urban areas…”
31.     The dream of the medical tricorder  http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21567208-medical-technology-hand-held-diagnostic-devices-seen-star-trek-are-inspiring  “…Along with teleportation, speech-driven computers and hand-held wireless communicators that flip open, the medical tricorder was one of many imaginary future technologies featured in “Star Trek”. Ever since, researchers have dreamed of developing a hand-held medical scanner that can take readings from a patient and then diagnose various conditions…the dream is finally edging closer to reality…the X Prize Foundation…announced the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, financed by the Qualcomm Foundation, the charitable arm of Qualcomm…It has put up $10m in prize money and another $10m to pay for the administration of the competition. So far more than 230 teams from over 30 countries have applied to enter the contest, the guidelines for which will be finalised this month. The goal is to create a mobile platform that will enable people to diagnose a set of 15 conditions, including diseases as varied as pneumonia, diabetes and sleep apnoea, without having to rely on a doctor or nurse…obstacles to building a medical tricorder are not merely technological. Regulatory agencies such as America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may delay or restrict consumers from getting their hands on such devices, and the medical establishment, infamous for its inertia, may be wary of granting patients a more active role in diagnosis…The prospects for creating a medical tricorder have been boosted enormously by the spread of mobile phones. There are now more than 6 billion in use around the world, of which around 1 billion are smartphones…Even without any additional hardware or software, a phone can be a useful medical device…Add some extra software in the form of downloadable apps, and the cameras and video recorders built into more advanced handsets can be used as sensors to measure or track vital signs, such as heart and respiration rates. Add hardware in the form of sensors that plug into the phone or connect to it wirelessly, and a phone can become an even more powerful tool for monitoring and diagnosis…At the moment there is only draft guidance from the FDA on which medical apps require review…The amount of money flowing into digital-health start-ups is rising fast. Rock Health, a non-profit incubator in San Francisco that tracks deals in this field, says 128 venture-capital firms invested a total of $1.1 billion in more than 100 digital-health firms in the first nine months of 2012, an increase of 70% over…the same period in 2011…Nokia, a large handset-maker, has agreed to sponsor the $2.25m Sensing X Challenge…to speed up the development of medical sensors for tricorders…AliveCor…has developed an iPhone case…that can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). Dr Topol recently used a prototype to assess a fellow passenger on an aircraft who was suffering from chest pain. He concluded the passenger was having a heart attack, and the plane was diverted. Other firms are also developing medical add-ons for smartphones…a smartphone-based ultrasound system…a sleek glucose-monitoring device for diabetics that plugs into an iPhone…The CellScope is an attachment that turns a smartphone into a microscope. Several versions with different resolutions have been developed that allow the technology to be used for different things…”
32.    Memory And Processor Advances Redefine Digital Technology  http://electronicdesign.com/article/digital/memory-processor-advances-redefine-digital-technology-74760  “…Many digital technologies like PCI Express Gen 3 and USB 3.0 are beginning to mature, providing more options to use…other technologies will emerge and have a significant impact, including DDR4, MRAM dual-inline memory modules (DIMMs), and 64-bit Arm cores. DDR4 is on the horizon and will see the light of day this year. DDR3 will remain a major factor, especially for embedded applications…Non-volatile DDR3 DIMMs are now available in two forms. The first was the flash/DRAM pairing…This DIMM requires an external supercap, but it takes advantage of the capacity of the flash and the DRAM to deliver storage comparable to a standard DRAM DDR3 DIMM…Data is copied to and from the flash during power transitions. The second non-volatile DDR3 storage to watch is based on Everspin’s spin-torque MRAM…The chips used in this DIMM are 64 Mbits, but it doesn’t require extra power or even refreshing…Hybrid disk drives are on the rise as they’re more tightly integrated with operating systems…Hard drives continue grow in capacity, but…Flash is where the action will be in the disk-drive and related storage market. Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe) is going to explode this year…The fast, scalable PCI Express bandwidth will be pushed by flash that has exceeded the bandwidth provided by the SATA and SAS disk interfaces. The lines are blurring as PCI Express is moving to the drive form factor, and comparable functionality is available in PCI Express adapters…What do you do when you have lots of transistors to play with? At the top end of the spectrum, you put lots of cores on one chip. Intel’s Xeon Phi packs in 60 x86 cores with vector support (Fig. 2). It competes with general purpose on graphics processing unit (GPGPU) platforms like NVidia’s Tesla K20X and AMD’s high-end FirePro…Move down the spectrum a little and you’ll find 64-bit Arm Cortex-A50 chips multiplying…Intel’s 22-nm Haswell processors are starting to show up…The 14-nm Broadwell is on the horizon too…The most action will be in the 32-bit space that Arm cores now dominate. Other 32-bit platforms are still very successful, but the core Arm architecture is found in platforms from the tiny Cortex-M0+ up to the Cortex-A50…There is still a lot of life in 8- and 16-bit platforms, though, and those extra transistors can be put to use in more, and often better, ways than just increasing register size…Power remains the watchword from tiny to massive processor core collections. It is one reason power debugging continues to grow in importance and availability. Power estimate, power use tracing, and power mode management are turning from nice features into design requirements…Altera has released a software development kit (SDK) for Altera FPGAs and OpenCL (see “How To Put OpenCL Into An FPGA”). FPGA fabrics typically are programmed using FPGA design tools and intellectual property (IP) based on languages like SystemC or others that are much different from C or C++. OpenCL is a specialization of C, but it is now commonly used for programming everything from GPUs to clusters of CPUs…MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface), a high-speed interface common on mobile devices, is another area where PCI Express and USB meet. The latest support lets PCI Express and USB ride on MIPI, providing a useful bridge for these protocols…Accelerometers, pressure sensors, and other types of sensors are getting smaller and less expensive. They’re also being combined into multi-sensor units…Virtual sensors can mimic other sensors by using data from a different type of sensor, typically by using a lower power but less accurate sensor. They might be used during idle periods, with the more power hungry but more accurate sensor awakened when needed…There is a definite push toward multiple screen support even on smaller platforms. At the higher end, multidisplay support via standard interfaces like DisplayPort are common. The link between displays is yet another area where change is occurring. Wireless HDMI technology is readily available now…Silicon technology is driving from 20 nm down to 16 nm, 14 nm, and even 10-nm design nodes, giving designers access to a tremendous number of transistors…”
33.    Teraherz chips  http://www.caltech.edu/content/new-tool-secret-agents-and-rest-us  “A secret agent…spots a pile of suspicious boxes in the alleyway, and pulls out his cell phone. As he scans it over the packages…his handy smartphone application reveals an explosive device, and the agent saves the day…it is a real possibility, thanks to tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed by…electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology…The chips generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves… that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays…the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. In the future, the technology may lead to noninvasive cancer diagnosis…Using the same low-cost…technology…used to make the microchips…in our cell phones…we have made a silicon chip that can operate at nearly 300 times their speed…These chips will enable a new generation of extremely versatile sensors…Such electromagnetic waves can easily penetrate packaging materials and render image details in high resolution, and can also detect the chemical fingerprints of pharmaceutical drugs, biological weapons, or illegal drugs or explosives…most existing terahertz systems involve bulky and expensive laser setups that sometimes require exceptionally low temperatures…The new chips boast signals more than a thousand times stronger than existing approaches…The researchers also figured out how to radiate, or transmit, the terahertz signal once it has been produced. At such high frequencies, a wire cannot be used, and traditional antennas at the microchip scale are inefficient. What they came up with instead was a way to turn the whole silicon chip into an antenna…”
34.    3D Design Program Has Unexpected Benefits Across Generations  http://www.pddnet.com/news/2012/12/3d-design-program-has-unexpected-benefits-across-generations  “…University of Utah researchers have been deploying a computer-based design program called SketchUp in workshops to teach and develop life skills for youth on the autism spectrum. An earlier study showed that using the program helps kids develop their spatial and visual acuity, as well as to leverage those strengths to build positive social interactions…researchers have found that using the technology also helps open new communication doors with grandparents of the students…Autism, also referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurological disorder commonly characterized by atypical social skills, decreased verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive stereotyped behaviors…Grandparents are important in the social network of children on the spectrum, because they are often involved in the children's care as well as treatment decisions for the family…boys aged 8 to 17 years old diagnosed with autism participated in workshops designed around the 3D modeling program called SketchUp…The program was designed to facilitate students' spatial-design skills and social engagement…Family members, including grandparents, were involved in the workshops by participating in family events and school presentations of the students' work…Discussions revealed that by observing and participating in the technology workshops, the grandparents came to recognize the value of computer skills as a way for their grandchild to build on his strengths, which also opened more possibilities for the child's future. "What we found encouraging was that expectations for their grandchildren changed from frustration to hope…”
35.    MIT prof says Windows 8 is the perfect gift for people you hate, we disagree  http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/mit-prof-says-windows-8-is-the-perfect-gift-for-people-you-hate-we-disagree-2012127/  “Philip Greenspun is a respected figure in the computer science world. He’s also a certified flight instructor, helps run a non-profit, and still teaches the occasional programming course at MIT. He even founded Geek.com’s former sister site, Photo.net in 1993. He also really, really doesn’t like Windows 8. In fact, he says that Windows 8 is the “perfect gift for someone you hate.” Greenspun’s tirade…focuses on the sometimes awkward coexistence of the touch-friendly Windows 8 interface and the traditional Windows desktop experience…My 8-year-old is no computer expert, and when I quietly upgraded his computer to Windows 8 one evening it only took him a few seconds to figure out how to fire up Minecraft and Portal. I also wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an expert, but there was never a point at which I had “no idea” how to use Windows 8…I primarily run Windows 8 on my desktop computer, and I use it mainly for tasks like blogging, editing photos, and other office-type activities. I’ve spent a grand total of perhaps 20 minutes in the Modern interface when not purposely testing an app. I boot, I log in, and I’m whisked to the desktop — because I was “expert” enough to add an entry in the registry to load explorer.exe at startup…you can’t start an application from the desktop, says Greenspun…totally untrue. Windows 8 features the same Taskbar as Windows 7, and you can still pin applications to it…All my core apps are right there on the Taskbar, just one click away…Every Windows keyboard in the world has a dedicated key…Tap it, and there is the Start Screen…Is Windows 8 perfect? No, not by a long shot. But…I approached Windows 8 with an open mind, and it’s worked out pretty well for me…”
Leisure & Entertainment
36.    Halo sells its 50 millionth copy  http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2012/12/06/halo-sells-its-50-millionth-copy-as-halo-4-adds-fresh-momentum-to-the-popular-franchise/  “Microsoft has sold more than 50 million copies of Halo 4…Halo: Combat Evolved launched in 2001, more than a decade past, demonstrating how long the Halo franchise has endured. Halo and Xbox have been intertwined brands since the release of the gaming line’s first title…Bungie, Halo’s original creators no longer build the game, with Microsoft’s 343 Industries now responsible. 343 Industries is currently working on Halo 5 and 6. The wildcard in that development is all but certainly the next Xbox console, widely expected to be released in 2013. TNW fully expects the Xbox 720…to run on a shared Windows core…Such a move would tie together Microsoft’s ‘three screens and a cloud’ strategy…The Xbox line has been on a tear of late, with the Xbox 360 moving a staggering 750,000 consoles in the United States alone during the Black Friday shopping conflagration. Microsoft’s console has been the top-selling box for 22 straight months…”
37.    2012: an epoch-defining year for home entertainment  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/05/2012_a_defining_year_for_home_entertainment_kit/  “…2012 was…the year that the wheels fell off the Japanese consumer electronics bandwagon…Huge corporations bellowed and collapsed like men in monster suits at the end of a Godzilla movie…Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga conceded that his company was “a loser in consumer electronics”, despite releasing arguably the best television in its history…His solution? Head for the greener waters of eco-tech and infrastructure projects…Sharp. Once the darling of the LCD business, the company now appears on the verge of extinction…Sony’s financial plight isn’t much better, and other brands are drawing straws to stare into the abyss…whatever happened to OLED, the replacement technology for LCD and plasma?...The simple reason they haven’t appeared is because the panels are next to impossible to make…the yield rate is a pathetic ten per cent…our two OLED advocates continue to pursue the technology with dogged persistence…“It’s like watching two drunken guys playing poker.”…TV sizes have been creeping up…Samsung tempted with its largest ever Smart TV, the spectacular 75in UE75ES9000…with 4K x 2K Ultra HD emerging from the shadows…Sony got the Ultra HD party started…with the unveiling of the 84in Bravia…4K is a genuine evolution of the TV experience…it seems Ultra HD is revealing legs…2012 has also been the year that Wi-Fi Hi-Fi finally became a mainstream proposition…the driving force hasn’t been Apple with its AirPlay tech, but wireless audio pioneer Sonos…Cheaper and distinctly more colourful, the Pure Jongo wireless music proposition may yet become the Swatch of streaming music…The DVR scene also deleted its doldrums during 2012, with a selection of nifty internet-connectable digital TV recorders, the best of which was YouView…this next-generation box, the Humax YouView DTR-T1000…sets a new benchmark for timeshifters…If there’s been a defining trait this year, it’s “smart” connectivity: TVs, Blu-ray players, AV receivers - if your latest toy doesn’t have an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi built in, then it’s most definitely of the wrong vintage…”
38.    5 Innovations Transforming the Entertainment Industry  http://mashable.com/2012/12/09/innovation-index-jon-m-chu-entertainment/  “…Because of his experience and success in entertainment, from web video to feature films, we asked Jon M. Chu to curate the top 5 innovations of 2012 in entertainment for Mashable's Innovation Index…1. Machinima…"They're not a television network, they're not a movie studio. They are the model for the future of digital entertainment…2. Tablets…"This might be the most important -- and it’s the explosion of tablet. Not just one, but all of them, from the iPad to the Nexus to the Surface and Kindle Fire…3. GoPro HD Hero 3…"It’s small. It looks like a toy. But it’s one powerful piece of awesome technology…Throughout 2012, GoPro was used in major motion pictures, commercials, music videos and even space jumps to capture images never before possible…4. Vyclone…"So you’re at a concert and hundreds of people are shooting different angles at the same time. Now imagine an app that can sync the audio and connect all those cameras so that your iPhone becomes a live editor between all of them. ..Well, Vyclone can’t quite handle hundreds yet, but it’s on its way. The app can sync four cameras to create a multi-camera experience unlike any other…This is live, creative crowd-sourcing at its best. I love the idea that everyone becomes a camera man at an event and you are the director…5. Dolby Atmos…"Your movie-going experience just got a serious injection of audio steroids. Dolby’s groundbreaking Atmos sound system for movie exhibitors puts unprecedented audio detail not just to the left, right, front and center of you, but now, above you…I’ve heard what it sounds like and it will blow you away…” [my vote for the coolest one is the Vyclone; it’s like the sporting event app I want where hundreds of smartphones in a sports arena are capturing different aspects and views of the event, which can be merged or forked into streaming video, instant replays, specific player highlighting, and who knows what else – ed.]
Economy and Technology
39.    Microsoft to set up 100 innovation centres in India within 2 years  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/microsoft-to-set-up-100-innovation-centres-in-india-within-2-years/articleshow/17518654.cms  “Microsoft Corporation (India) has announced the launch of 14 Microsoft Innovation Centres (MICs) in India, signing MoUs with leading academic institutions across four states…Microsoft aims to launch a total of 100 MICs in India in the next two years…The programme will also drive innovation and help build a product-based software economy by supporting product development, and over 500 start-ups. The MICs will act as innovation hubs at select colleges and technology institutes, providing incubation and expert hands-on support on Microsoft technology innovation, research, and software solutions, aiming to create a pool of student technology experts across India. Each MIC will function as a hub for five other neighboring colleges and will operate in a hub-spoke model driving employability, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the academic ecosystem around it…”
40.    AMD puts brakes on chip manufacturing as sales plummet  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/12/amd-puts-brakes-on-chip-manufacturing-as-sales-plummmet/  “…AMD reduced its promised silicon wafer purchases to just $115 million, down from $500 million, while agreeing to pay a $320 million penalty for the order change over the next year…One of the biggest problems for AMD is that PC sales have plunged and demand for its processors has shrunk. In October, Gartner said that global PC shipments had fallen for the third quarter of the year by 8.3 percent from the same period in 2011…AMD is getting hit with a disproportionate share of the losses in sales mostly as a result of its already poor market position…“When demand declines, AMD is the first to go.” AMD has had little luck penetrating the expanding tablet market—and it continues to lose ground against Intel in the desktop, notebook, and server markets…”
41.     Chinese company wins bid for battery maker A123  http://gigaom.com/cleantech/chinese-giant-wanxiang-wins-bid-for-bankrupt-a123-and-its-battery-tech/  “Chinese auto tech behemoth Wanxiang has won the bidding process in an auction to buy the assets of bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems…Wanxiang plans to acquire most of the assets of A123 for $256.6 million. It…could be a bit controversial, given A123 received a $132 million grant from the U.S. government, and could now be owned by a Chinese company. The winning bid beat out Johnson Control’s bid to acquire A123′s automotive division. Johnson Controls previously had offered to buy the automotive division and two factories for $125 million. One of the reasons Wanxiang’s offer to buy up A123 had been controversial was because A123 had some U.S. military contracts, which critics didn’t want to see in the hands of a Chinese company. But A123 decided to sell off its government business, including all its U.S. military contracts, to Illinois-based company Navitas Systems, for $2.25 million…The deal still has to be approved by the bankruptcy court as well as the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States…”
Design / DEMO
42.    Philadelphia University welcomes design, entreprenurial spirit to industrial legacy  http://technicallyphilly.com/2012/11/19/philadelphia-university-industrial-design-technology-entrepreneur  “…the 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Philadelphia University use their fair share of technology. From product design with a new look at innovation to maker culture with an embrace of a connectivity to the web to art and fashion with entrepreneurial sustainability, the school’s…an interesting take on technology…In January, a new 38,500 square foot university building dedicated to combine design, engineering and commerce into one location will open…The industrial design programs…involve the intersection of technology and product design and are among the school’s signature degrees…The university is also launching the first, full-degree programs in geodesign. The program will focus on collaborative design projects for communities and solving real world problems like global warming and disaster mitigation…Finch also helps place students in jobs and internships and said the program has a high rate in helping students receive job and internship placement…”
43.    Red Dot Award: Product Design 2013  http://www.dexigner.com/news/26005  “Red Dot is calling for entries for its 2013 Product Design Award. Whether it's with an innovative piece of furniture, revolutionary laboratory technology or breathtaking architecture - young and up-and- coming talents as well as established designers are once again invited to demonstrate their know-how and stand out from the masses…The deadline for registrations is January 18, 2013…”  15 Best of 2012 red dot product design  http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/03/15/15-amazing-best-of-best-2012-red-dot-product-design/  “…Companies have realized that investing in design offers a considerable added value…Here is a quick look at the 15 products that won the coveted Best of Best 2012 red dot product design…1) OpenSpace Shower Screen by EOOS Design…2) Xoolum Linear LED Lighting Fixture by LED Linear…3) Shallow Swing – Garden Furniture by Werkstatt für Holzgestaltung…4) Recline Personal Cardiovascular Fitness Equipment by Technogym Spa…5) Speedmax Concept Timetrail by Artefakt Industriekultur…6) Geograph Rainforest Watch by Les Ateliers Louis Moinet…7) Annette Douglas Textiles ACOUSTICS – Translucent Acoustic Curtains by Annette Douglas Textiles…8 ) Endemico Resguardo Silvestre by graciastudio…9) Mindport by Lista Office LO & Greutmann Bolzern…10) Smart ebike – Electric Bike by Daimler…11) Soulution 540 Digital-Player by greutmann bolzern designstudio…12) Nikon 1 Digital Camera by Nikon…13) BGL35Move Series Vacuum Cleaner by Robert Bosch Hausgeräte…14) UNO Coffee Machine by 2nd West | design for public…15) Jinn Floor Light & Table Light by Mathias Hahn…”
44.    Ex-SolidWorks execs reunite to take another swing at product design software  http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2012/12/solidworks_execs_reunite_to_ta.html  “…Dassault Systèmes paid $316 million to acquire SolidWorks…The year was 1997, and SolidWorks was just four years old as a company. Fifteen years after the acquisition…SolidWorks' products generate almost half a billion in annual revenue…Now the founder of SolidWorks, Jon Hirschtick, right, has assembled a team of former colleagues, including long-time SolidWorks CEO John McEleney, to develop a fresh take on product design in the era of cloud computing. The place-holder name for the new venture is Belmont Technology…McEleney, Belmont's chief executive, isn't saying much…beyond that the team is "building enterprise product design software using modern software tools and platforms."…last August, McEleney sold another startup, CloudSwitch, to Verizon. And Hirschtick only left SolidWorks last October…GrabCAD…has lately been working on its own cloud-based CAD software.…”
DHMN Technology
45.    Heli-Max 1SQ, the $100 quadcopter  http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/review-heli-max-1sq-quadcopter-2012125/  “…There’s a lot of things to consider when choosing a quadcopter…If you’ve never flown a quadcopter before, you will crash it. Not just once or twice, either. Your first quadcopter needs to be able to survive your…attempts at learning how to use it. The 1SQ uses a vey simple design, and is clearly built with the understanding that you will need to repair it. The individual arms that hold the motors can be replaced and re-wired with ease. The rotors themselves come off easily, and the kit for the 1SQ includes four replacement blades. The wiring for each motor connects to the board at the center of the quadcopter using easy to remove plastic connectors…The quadcopter comes pre-assembled, so all you need to do is charge the included 250mAh battery…Flying the 1SQ is simpler than you might think. The included radio gives you a small screen that lets you know how much power you are providing, allowing you to quickly tweak if necessary…the gyro stabilizer on the quadcopter quickly compensates for wind or changes in terrain. If things get out of hand and you lose control of the quadcopter…as long as you cut the power to the blades you will drastically minimize the risk of damaging the copter. Having personally crashed this 1SQ more times than I would care to admit, I can say that it holds up very well as long as you follow the flight instructions. For $100, Heli-Max has done a great job making a beginners quadcopter…”
46.    How we got a washing machine to text when it's done  http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/11/shake-rattle-and-roll-how-we-got-a-washing-machine-to-text-when-its-done/  “…Eventually all your gizmos—ranging from your coffee maker to your garage door—will be able to communicate with you, each other…The Internet of Things is a major goal in Silicon Valley right now, and one startup recently launched a hobbyist product to move things in the right direction…The Electric Imp…is a little SD card-sized Wi-Fi device that can be hooked up to various types of electronic sensors. It can then connect electronic devices or other real-world physical items to the Internet…The people behind the Electric Imp…have an alpha release devkit you can experiment with. We received one last month and…decided we needed something both technically challenging, useful, and feasible. In that light, we settled on…a washing machine that would text when it's done. The washing machine was originally proposed by Hugo Fiennes, Electric Imp’s CEO, when I first interviewed him this summer…some people dismissed this idea as not terribly useful…but…I wanted something I would actually use…Plus, this idea has no related costs and didn’t require any crazy extra hardware…we wanted a way to explore just how easy or difficult using an imp would be…When we got started, the concept of using the Hannah’s accelerometer to sense movement and send a text message when the movement stopped seemed straightforward. But, as is always the case, reality was a bit more complicated. The entire process took something on the order of 12 hours. That's a long time, much of it spent fiddling with code, testing, testing, and testing again—we did a lot of laundry…”
47.    AR Drone That Infects Other Drones With Virus Wins DroneGames  http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/ar-drone-that-infects-other-drones-with-virus-wins-dronegames   “AR Drones can be much, much more than awesome toys…DroneGames, which took place over the weekend in San Francisco, tasked programmers with hacking the UAVs in the most interesting and creative ways possible…and was sponsored by the likes of Groupon itself, Windows Azure, and NodeCopter, which recently started this helihacking movement…in first place was James Halliday, who wrote a virus that will infect an AR Drone, and then use that drone to infect any other AR Drones it comes across, "causing them all to be p0wned and run amok." Or if you want to be less evil about it, it's a handy way to automatically deploy software onto a bunch of AR Drones at once…”
48.    HyTAQ aerial and terrestrial quadcopter  http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/hybrid-quadrotor-seamlessly-travels-by-land-or-sea-20121129/  “…the Illinois Institute of Technology Robotics Lab have developed a quadcopter, the HyTAQ (Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor), that can seamlessly travel by land or sea, smoothly transitioning from one to the other…HyTAQ is surrounded in a cage that not only makes the quadrocopter crash resistant, but allows it to roll along the ground. The HyTAQ flies by using its four actuators, which give the unit enough thrust to lift itself and the cage off the ground. With the help of the rolling cage, the quadrocopter uses the same flight actuators and control system to achieve its land locomotion, giving the unit a lighter weight than if it required two different travel mechanisms and control systems, and thus, more maneuverability…Due to the energy savings, the HyTAQ can travel distances of up to four times greater and can operate for six times longer than a quadrotor that doesn’t have land capabilities. When strictly flying, its battery only lasts for five minutes and around 1,969 feet of flight travel. However, the battery lasts for 27 minutes and a distance of 7,874 feet when traveling by land…One of the biggest issues with land travel is overcoming physical obstacles. Thanks to the unit’s air travel, if its path is blocked on the ground, it can simply fly over the obstacle, then continue along in ground mode, saving energy…”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbtkpYIbuCw  [this is an awesome example of potentially disruptive innovation and of how innovation can occur at the intersection of two fields – ed.]
49.    10 Trends To Come In 3D Printing  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/12/07/manufacturing-the-future-10-trends-to-come-in-3d-printing/  “…Here’s a look at 10 trends to watch in 3D printing next year and beyond…1. 3D printing becomes industrial strength. Once reserved for prototypes and toys, 3D printing will…start to be adopted for the direct manufacture of specialist components in industries like defense and automotive…the number of 3D printed parts in planes, cars and even appliances will increase without you knowing…2. 3D printing starts saving lives. 3D-printed medical implants will improve the quality of life of someone close to you…it is being used today for making better titanium bone implants, prosthetic limbs and orthodontic devices. Experiments in printing soft tissue…may soon allow printed veins and arteries to be used in operations…3. Customization becomes the norm. You will buy a product, customized to your exact specifications, which is 3D-printed and delivered to your doorstep…4. Product innovation is faster. Everything from new car models to better home appliances will be designed more rapidly, bringing innovation to you faster…5. New companies develop innovative business models built on 3D printing…3D printing will spawn new and creative business models…6. 3D print shops open at the mall…Initially designed to service rapid-prototyping and other niche capabilities, these shops will branch into the consumer marketplace…7. Heated debates on who owns the rights emerge…there will be high-profile test cases over the intellectual property of physical object designs…8. New products with magical properties will tantalize us. New products – that can only be created on 3D printers – will combine new materials, nano scale and printed electronics to exhibit features that seem magical compared to today’s manufactured products…9. New machines grace the factory floor. Expect to see 3D printing machines appearing in factories…Many manufacturers will begin experimenting with 3D printing for applications outside of prototyping…10. “Look what I made!” Your children will bring home 3D printed projects from school…A number of middle schools and high schools already have 3D printers…Digital literacy will be about things as well as bits.”
50.    Inside The World's Biggest Consumer 3D Printing Factory (Video)  http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/12/10/inside-the-worlds-biggest-consumer-focused-3d-printing-factory/  “…In October, 3D-printing startup Shapeways opened its New York production facility in Long Island City, Queens, the biggest consumer-focused 3D printing factory in the world. When I visited the site last week–at the height of its holiday frenzy–the startup had already installed nine industrial-sized 3D printers turning digital blueprints into solid physical objects at its fastest rate ever: In 2012 it printed more than a million items, well over its total for all prior years combined since the company launched in 2008. And by the holiday season of 2013 it hopes to have more than 50 printers filling its 25,000 feet of floor space…”
51.     element14 Launches a Comprehensive Industrial Automation Microsite  http://www.pddnet.com/news/2012/12/newark-element14-launches-comprehensive-industrial-automation-microsite  “Newark element14 has launched an easy-to-use industrial automation microsite, developed to help engineers in design or plant maintenance roles more efficiently research and source products. The microsite at www.newark.com/industrialautomation offers extensive information produced by Newark element14’s technical support team, plus the latest data and technology products from the world’s top suppliers, including Eaton, Honeywell, IDEC, Molex/Daniel Woodhead, Omron, Schneider Electric and TE Connectivity. Products from these and other best-in-class suppliers are available for same-day shipping and can be accessed from a dedicated catalog on the site that can be customized to individual preferences…”
Open Source Hardware
52.    Pinoccio: Behold, the first web-enabled Pinoccio board  http://pinocc.io/open-source-hardware/behold-the-first-web-enabled-pinoccio-board/  “We’ve finally finished getting the first semblance of a Pinoccio Arduino library completed, and along with that, a demo of a web client driving the RGB LED of a Pinoccio board…We borrowed heavily from network code written by the DIYSandbox team.  Thank you for the great work on the wifi library…This is a big milestone for us!  We now have a working Pinoccio Arduino library…”
53.    Raspberry Pi powers a pollution monitoring system  http://www.tgdaily.com/hardware-brief/67741-raspberry-pi-powers-a-pollution-monitoring-system  “…A French nonprofit organization known as Le Labo Citoyen is tapping open-source tech in an effort to benefit both citizens and the environment. The organization's first project? Powering a precision air pollution monitoring system with the Raspberry Pi dev board. The system is designed to gather pollution data such as NO2, O3, and SO2 levels…One of the components is called the Gasser, which is essentially a self-contained mobile sensor powered by the Raspberry Pi. The other open-source component is known as ThingStream and can best be described as an open-source IoT Datastore that allows data to reside on the organization's servers. The four individual components that make up the gasser include sensors costing approximately €110. The gasser also comprises a Delta-Sigma ADC priced at approximately €30, along with the Raspberry Pi which weighs in at about €30…the open source hardware and software components total roughly €255, which works out to about $330 in US dollars…”
54.    Arduino Esplora Provides A Ready-For-Gaming Open Source Video Game Controller  http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/10/new-arduino-esplora-provides-a-ready-for-gaming-customizable-open-source-video-game-controller/  “Arduino unveiled a new preassembled board today called the Esplora, which includes a variety of sensors and controls already assembled, allowing aspiring game programmers to quickly and easily get up and running with functional hardware out of the box, without having to break out the soldering iron. It includes light and temperature sensors, an accelerometer, four push buttons, a joystick and a slider, as well as visual and haptic feedback via an LED and buzzer. Users can play games with it using the free Super Tux Cart game on their computer right away, but the real promise is in the creative potential it hopes to help users unlock. The Esplora can emulate traditional input devices like a mouse or keyboard, and Arduino envisions it being used for applications beyond gaming, including as a controller for musical software, or as something to help with creating digital 3D models. The Esplora is extensible, meaning additional sensors and other hardware components can be added on, should a user feel like doing a little more hardware hacking, and Arduino promises a color LCD module will follow, meaning enterprising developers can actually use it to create their very own open source mobile gaming console, like a do-it-yourself GP2X or Pandora…”
Open Source
55.     Dropbox Hires Away Google’s Guido Van Rossum, BDFL Of Python  http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/07/dropbox-guido-van-rossum-python/  “…“Benevolent Dictator For Life” and author of Python, Guido van Rossum, is leaving Google to join Dropbox, the startup will announce later today…After creating Python in 1991, van Rossum became the first BDFL…The distinction means van Rossum has the final word on disputes about his coding language in the open source community. Python has been a backbone of Dropbox since its early days as it allowed the startup to write code once but deploy it across platforms. Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston has called Python his favorite coding language. It’s helped…the product remain simple as it scales to let over 100 million users save over 1 billion files per day…after seven years at Google, he’ll become a full-time software engineer for Dropbox and ensure it’s using Python as efficiently as possible…It seems top-notch tech talent sees the writing on the wall. Managing personal data and files will be one of the great challenges of the evolution of personal computing. Where once we had one connected device, soon we’ll have many, and letting those devices share our data will allow them to improve our lives…smart people love a good puzzle. As the last wave of tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook grow larger and less nimble, the adventure found at a nimble 250-person startup like Dropbox becomes more tempting…”
56.    Stallman slams Ubuntu as spyware, Canonical’s Jono Bacon calls FUD  http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/12/07/richard-stallman-slams-ubuntu-as-spyware-prompting-canonicals-jono-bacon-to-call-fud/  “Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU Project and founder of the Free Software Foundation, declared on Friday that Ubuntu is spyware. Jono Bacon, Ubuntu’s Community Manager, has countered on the same day by saying Stallman is spreading…FUD…Stallman’s main problem with Ubuntu is that as of version 12.10…the operating system displays advertisements in Unity Dash, the default file manager in desktop Ubuntu. When you search the Dash for files and applications, you get additional Amazon shopping results, and if a user buys something from Amazon as a result, Canonical receives money in the form of affiliate payments. As a result, the operating system sends data to Canonical when a user searches the desktop, which Stallman considers spying…Stallman doesn’t care that Canonical is attempting to make money to further fund Ubuntu, because he disapproves of the way it is doing so. Furthermore, he concludes by telling his readers…even if it used all the money it gets from Amazon to develop free software, that can hardly overcome what free software will lose if it ceases to offer an effective way to avoid abuse of the users…Here’s…part of Bacon’s reply…The goal of the dash in Ubuntu has always been to provide a central place in which you can search and find things that are interesting and relevant to you; it is designed to be at the center of your computing experience…and we are only part-way along the way to achieving it…In 13.04, the number of scopes installed by default in Ubuntu will be increased and relevancy will be improved. For example, a search for “The Beatles” is likely to trigger the Music and Video scopes, showing results that will contain local and online sources – with the online sources querying your personal cloud as well as other free and commercial sources like YouTube, Last.fm, Amazon, etc. To achieve this, the Dash will call a new smart scope service which will return ranked online search results, which the Dash will then balance against local results to return the most relevant information to the user…”  [although I don’t use Linux nearly as much as I probably should (for better security and to support the continued availability of general purpose computing options), the expanded goals of Ubuntu with regards to dash presenting with personalized search info seems a bit contrary to the open source ethos and elegant hacking; I’m with Stallman on this one – ed.]
57.     OpenSUSE's Jos Poortvliet: Collaborate or Become Obsolete  http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/76754.html  “…the first in an ongoing series featuring interviews with leaders in the open source community…Jos Poortvliet…openSUSE community manager…was chosen to lead a discussion on open governance at the Summit of New Thinking in Berlin. The open innovation concept is what got him interested in free software communities while studying organizational psychology, and it's an idea he tries to merge into growing the openSUSE community…Poortvliet holds a degree in organizational psychology…In this interview, Poortvliet discusses the importance of open collaboration and the threats to Linux posed by a proprietary mindset, even among those within the community…I'm not a developer. I'm a psychologist. But my wife is a programmer. I was studying psychology over 10 years ago. Back then I also played around with Linux…I found the connection between psychology and Linux very interesting. I was studying organizational psychology and the behavior of people within organizations…the whole free software thing from an organizational psychology point of view was rather peculiar. All these people are putting in all this effort in their free time writing software often without getting paid…When I got involved with this community software structure 10 years ago there were not studies done on it. So I got involved in studying the behaviors…For me, it's not just managing the community forum. It's very much about keeping an eye on the culture and atmosphere of projects and trying to create or keep circumstances that allow the community to grow and also look for the future there…I help people work together and collaborate and create the right circumstances and culture in which they can do that…in the last five years, I see a number of things that have changed. The mere fact that now there is a lot of research on community behavior tells you that there has been a shift in how it is perceived. Ten years ago we were at the point where Microsoft described us as a cancer. That's not the case anymore…”
Civilian Aerospace
58.    Golden Spike Company Unveils Plans to Fly Commercial Crews to the Moon  http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/12/golden-spike-announcement/  “A private enterprise named the Golden Spike Company announced today that they have plans to fly manned crews to the moon and back for a price of $1.5 billion per flight by 2020. Golden Spike, whose board includes former NASA engineers and spaceflight experts, has been working under the radar for the last two and a half years to develop their mission architecture…Their intended clients are not private individuals for a space tourism scheme, but rather governments…Golden Spike will follow a model like that of the Russian spaceflight industry in the 1980s and ‘90s, when they charged money to take other nations’ astronauts to the Salyut and Mir space stations for scientific experiments…“We can give countries an expedition to surface of the moon for two people,” planetary scientist and aerospace engineer Alan Stern, co-founder of Golden Spike and former head of NASA’s science mission directorate, told Wired…the company is already in talks with several countries “both east and west of the U.S.,”…Besides scientific expeditions, the company hopes to stimulate an increased manned presence in space. Golden Spike’s name is a reference to the final spike laid down in the transcontinental railroad in 1869, opening up the western U.S…The company said it can cut costs by partnering with other aerospace companies and using existing rockets or rockets already in development, needing to only build a lunar lander and a specialized spacesuit for astronauts on the moon. Among their partners are Masten Space Systems, which builds vertical take-off and landing spacecraft, for the lander and the Paragon Space Development Corporation, founded by Biosphere 2 crewmembers Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, for the suits and life-support systems…Golden Spike said their plan requires four separate launches. They will first launch two exiting rockets to bring a spacecraft and lunar lander into orbit around the moon. A second two launches will get people to the lander, where they will descend to the lunar surface and conduct an expedition before launching back to lunar orbit and then back to Earth…Golden Spike’s announcement is similar to the earlier unveiling of the private company Planetary Resources, which is backed by wealthy tech billionaires and intends to mine near-Earth asteroids for platinum metals and water. Both companies have lofty and expensive goals that could either pan out or end up crashing and burning…”
59.    SpaceX awarded US Air Force Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions  http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20121205  “The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded SpaceX two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions: DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2). To be launched on SpaceX's Falcon launch vehicles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the awards mark the first EELV-class missions awarded to the company…The DSCOVR mission will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 and is currently slated for late 2014, while STP-2 will be launched aboard the Falcon Heavy and is targeted for mid-2015…For the DSCOVR mission, a Falcon 9 rocket will launch a satellite to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L1, a location approximately 1,500,000 km (932,057 mi) from Earth. The DSCOVR satellite will monitor Earth and space weather, providing advanced warning of space weather events that will impact both civilian and military activities on the Earth…The STP-2 mission includes an integrated payload stack consisting of two co-prime space vehicles: the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2), designed to monitor climate behaviors; and the Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX), which will conduct radiation research for the Department of Defense. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will execute two orbital insertions, deploying COSMIC-2 into low-Earth orbit and DSX into medium-Earth orbit, while also deploying cubesats and auxiliary payloads…These two missions will support the EELV certification process for both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world, is expected to take its first flight in the second half of 2013…”
Supercomputing & GPUs
60.    Europeans Give Samsung CPU-GPU Chip a Go at Supercomputing  http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-11-20/europeans_give_samsung_cpu-gpu_chip_a_go_at_supercomputing.html  “…the Mont-Blanc project announced it…tapped Samsung to supply the processors that would power an experimental high performance computing system. Mont-Blanc is an EU-funded HPC architecture…with a scalable architecture that will make it feasible to build exascale computers that run within a reasonable power envelope…the project is focusing on mobile/embedded computing technology…The processor in question is Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual, an integrated ARM-GPU SoC built on its 32nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. It was originally designed for mobile consumer devices and is being used to power the Samsung Chromebook and the Google Nexus 10…Exynos 5, the processor, is made up of a dual-core 1.7 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU and a quad-core ARM Mali-T604 GPU. Although the chip is built to serve mobile computing apps and 3D gaming, according to Samsung, it can support 72 gigaflops at double precision…”
61.     BU to Launch the East Coast’s Largest Academic GPU Computer Cluster  http://www.newswise.com/articles/bu-to-launch-the-east-coast-s-largest-academic-gpu-computer-cluster  “Boston University researchers…will fire up the largest academic GPU…computer cluster on the East Coast, thanks to a gift of 160 GPUs from the Hewlett-Packard Company. The GPUs, valued at $320,000, will be installed in a new cluster…The new system, called BUDGE (Boston University Distributed GPU Environment), is based on GPU computing…The GPU-enabled BUDGE cluster offers peak performance in excess of 32 teraflop/s (or 32 million million operations per second) at an unprecedentedly low cost for such number-crunching power. This supercomputer will be used…for research in particle physics, fluid dynamics, and bioinformatics and computational biology…BU’s involvement with GPU computing began five years ago, when a graduate student of Professor Rebbi introduced him to CUDA, a programming model invented by GPU manufacturer NVIDIA. Rebbi soon purchased a GPU system for CCS and encouraged his students to write code for the device. Following these early efforts, the CCS received a donation of several more GPUs from NVIDIA at the end of 2008, allowing the center to spearhead a new national effort to develop GPU code. An NSF EAGER grant funded the purchase of BU’s first GPU cluster, named BUNGEE…”
62.    The New Breed of Accelerators from NVIDIA, Intel and AMD Square Off  http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-12-06/the_new_breed_of_accelerators_from_nvidia_intel_and_amd_square_off.html?featured=top  “With the recent introduction of Intel's first Xeon Phi coprocessors, NVIDIA's latest Kepler GPUs, and AMD's new FirePro S10000 graphics card, the competition for HPC chip componentry has entered a new phase. The three chipmakers have taken somewhat different paths though, and it will be up to the market to decide which vendor's approach will win the day…The HPC space is too small and homogeneous to support that much architectural diversity…consider how CPU side has, for the most part, consolidated to a single ISA (the x86), and to a large degree, a single vendor (Intel)…That implies that the chip design that does that best, that is, delivers the most application FLOPS per dollar and per watt, will be the HPC consumer's top choice -- unless you believe that one or the other of these platforms will be substantially easier to program than the others…All of them offer teraflop-plus double precision performance with several gigabytes of ECC memory, but…it's the performance per watt that is most likely to become the driving criteria for many HPC users…The NVIDIA Tesla K20X is the one to beat in this regard. It offers 1.3 teraflops in a 235 watt package, -- so 5.6 gigaflops/watt. Intel's new "Knights Corner" Xeon Phi, the 5110P, delivers 1.011 teraflops with a TDP of 225 watts, which works out to 4.5 gigaflops/watt. The AMD FirePro S10000 card that sports two "Tahiti" GPUs, is rated at 1.48 teraflops. But the FirePro draws 375 watts, so its 3.9 gigaflops/watt is the actually the lowest of the bunch…if you're really focused on single precision performance, the go-to device is NVIDIA K10, which delivers over 20 gigaflops/watt…”
63.    GPU Monster Shreds Password Hashes  http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-12-06/gpu_monster_shreds_password_hashes.html  “…Thanks to cheaper hardware, cloud software, and free password cracking programs, it's easier than ever to hack these digital keys. Security researcher Jeremi Gosney has taken this craft to a new level…Gosney's custom-built GPU cluster tore through 348 billion password hashes per second…The system sports five 4U servers equipped with 25 AMD Radeon-based GPUs…To help keep costs down, Gosney purchased many of his GPUs (not just the ones in this system) from retired bitcoin miners, and his team also uses spare GPU cycles to mine for bitcoins…the researcher used the OpenCL framework over a Virtual OpenCL (VCL) platform to run the Hashcat password cracking algorithm. Against this combination of hardware and software, passwords protected with weaker encryption algorithms are basically obsolete…In real-world terms, a 14-character Windows XP password hashed using LAN Manager (LM) would take just six minutes to break…Such evidence leads Per Thorsheim…to conclude that Windows XP passwords aren't good enough anymore…Fast hashes MD5 and SHA1 allowed 180 billion and 63 billion tries per second, respectively. While slow hashes were tougher to crack: bcrypt (05) and sha512crypt yielded 71,000 and 364,000 attempts per second, respectively, and md5crypt permitted 77 million per second…”
Trends & Emerging Tech
64.    Technologies Of The Future: 5 Trends To Watch For 2013  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2012/12/07/technologies-of-the-future-5-trends-to-watch-for-2013/  “…Here how the IEEE Computer Society sees the computing world unfolding in 2013…New companies and applications will bring the long-held vision of the Internet of Things closer to reality. Promising to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web, the Internet of Things is predicted to result in up to 100 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020…IoT in 2013 will witness an explosion of new uses by consumers and enterprises alike…Enterprises are also beginning to embrace IoT for tracking physical assets, managing customer relationships, and creating efficiencies in business operations and supply chains…Visualization and analytics will help solve the challenges of big data…The ability to make timely decisions based on available data is crucial to business success, clinical treatments, cyber and national security, and disaster management….Big data analytics and discovery present new research opportunities to the computer graphics and visualization community…Enterprises will deploy hybrid clouds and consumers will embrace personal clouds...The battle over Internet censorship and control will reach new heights…In 2013, expect to see these battles continuing, in the form of Internet filtering versus circumvention, surveillance versus anonymization, denial-of-service attacks and intrusion attempts versus protection mechanisms, and on- and offline persecution and defense of online activists…including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)…Protect IP Act (PIPA)…the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union…assuming control of the Internet…eliminating anonymization…Researchers and companies will develop new tools and approaches to help unleash the power of multicore computing…learning to interact with multicore technology is a critical priority. In 2013, researchers will be focusing on approaches to providing scalable, shared memory at the on-chip level, which is critical in a future where individual nodes will have on the order of 1,000 cores each…”
65.    IDC’s 2013 predictions: Shift to third platform of mobile, cloud is here  http://www.rcrwireless.com/article/20121204/wireless/idcs-2013-predictions-mobile-cloud/  “Mobile is fueling a radical shift in information technology, and 2013 will be a pivotal year, according to analyst firm IDC…the firm continues to see changes and trends reflected in its “third platform” view, that information technology competitiveness and growth depend directly on mobile and cloud-based competence. “That’s our view that the IT industry is in the middle of a once-every-25-year shift to a new technology platform for growth and innovation – that’s built on mobile devices and applications, it’s built on cloud services, it’s built on big data analytics, social technologies, new industry solutions build on top of that; engaging new communities of strategic customers: consumers, small and medium businesses, emerging markets…users are moving ever closer to the point where most people use smart wireless devices, rather than PCs, to access the Internet. IDC expects to reach that tipping point in 2015…Gens said that the next generation of IT software service trends is the concept of a “platform as a service, or PaaS — where companies develop cloud-based software solutions for specific industries, rather than accepting broad solutions from traditional vendors…IDC predicts that “Bring Your Own ID” — not just Bring Your Own Device — is going to expand its reach in enterprise IT and security, and enterprise authentication will begin to look more like large consumer brands such as Facebook, Google…rather than try to replicate widely-adopted consumer technology such as, say, Drop Box for file sharing , IT players will likely try to acquire technologies that are already broadly used because the value is in their reach rather than in the technology itself…”
66.    Google Zeitgeist 2012  http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/  “What is the Google Zeitgeist?...“Zeitgeist” means “the spirit of the times,” and this spirit can be seen through the aggregation of billions of search queries Google receives every day. The annual Zeitgeist report reveals what captured the world's attention in the past year—our passions, interests and defining moments as seen through search…”  http://www.googlezeitgeist.com/en (USA top 10 trends)  [potentially useful for ABC efforts to leverage short term trends, especially for residual revenue – ed.]



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